ARTS AND FEATURES — 26 March 2014

Christy painting as a boy

By Shelley Marsden

DUBLIN painter Christy Brown’s personal and family archive has been bought at auction at Bonham’s, London by the National Library of Ireland and the Little Museum of Dublin.

This means that the valuable collection, which was sold by the late artist’s family, will now be housed permanently in Dublin, Christy’s home town.  Containing hundreds of books, unseen photos, personal items, papers and paintings, the collection went for £37,500 (€44,733).

Included in the collection was a letter from 1952 that Brown penned to long-time friend Katriona Maguire in 1952. Katriona was the first person outside of his own family to recognise Christy’s gifts as both an artist and writer.

Katriona contributed a total of 40 letters to the collection, of which five were written with Christy’s left foot and 33 typed with it.

Acting Director of the NLI Catherine Fahy said: “Christy Brown was one of the most extraordinary creative forces to emerge in Ireland during the twentieth century.

“This archive includes very significant correspondence and writings, as well as previously unseen sketches, paintings and unpublished poems.”

An abstract by the artist

Ireland’s Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan said: “Christy Brown was an amazing individual who overcame great personal difficulties, to become one of Ireland’s best known authors and painters.”

The collection will now be preserved and made accessible to residents and visitors to Ireland. Deenihan added that he looks forward to an exhibition of the material “in the near future”.

The artist, who had cerebral palsy and learned how to draw with his left foot, became famous outside Ireland after the release of the acclaimed 1989 Oscar-winning movie, My Left Foot starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Andrew Currie of Bonhams said the auction had sparked a lot of interest, partly due to the fame of Sheridan’s film but also because of how internationally recognised his work had come to be.

Christy died in 1981, at the age of 49.

Christy and family on a day trip

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